App Store vs. Android Market...initial thoughts

We just posted our first game, Super Jetpack Dragon IV: Village Burntopia, to the Android Market yesterday and I felt the urge to write about both the experience of doing that, as well as the initial differences noticed between the two shops.

App Store

A lot of our games were initially developed for the iPhone specifically, and as we've been developing for the iPhone since its launch, it's a comfortable place for us. The App Store is a well known entity at this point, and most developers know the typical development / submission process well:

  1. Make game
  2. Submit game
  3. Await 2-5 days for approval (our recent averages)
  4. Game goes live
  5. Start each day checking your sales numbers

Ok so I added that last one largely for me - after all we may be making games, but it's still a business.
And this doesn't speak to the weeks it takes to get setup with Apple in terms of getting legal papers out of the way, bank account information, etc.

Let's compare this to the Android Market...

Android Market

It's similar to the App Store in a lot of ways (and differs in a lot as well - more on that below). But let's look at that same dev/submission cycle.

  1. Make game
  2. Submit game
  3. Game is live within minutes (literally 2 in our case)
  4. Endlessly refresh the Google Checkout account as you can track sales in real time

Again, that last one there is due to my own obsessive-compulsive tendencies, but that's not the point of this post. Notice the lack of delay. The lack of waiting. You submit your game and as long as they can process the file you upload, you're live. We went from not even having a publishing account on the Android Market, to having our first game live, within a 10-minute span.

Clearly the Android Market appears to be more developer friendly...but let's think this through a bit more.

The ability to instantly publish, and more importantly instantly update your games, means as fixes come in, you can get them to your users that same day. No more waiting days to fix that nasty crash a user just destroyed your rating with.

Now for the downside: the floodgates are wide open.

With the ease of publishing new products, and the even-lower-than-iPhone-dev cost of entry, products can be put up in swarms, very quickly pushing you off the main list there is. Unless you somehow can push swarms of people to get your game to put you in Top free/Top paid (which is much more difficult, seeing as you're not in a place to be discovered), or you're chosen to be featured on the main page (which again, as people can't find your game, how can they choose to feature it) then after a few days of being live, your app is effectively invisible to the masses of Android owning gamers.

For featured apps/games, atleast from my brief experience it appears that there are about 5 banner image slots, and 15 featured slots. Compare this to the numerous lists available on the iTunes App Store (What's Hot, New and Noteworthy, What We're Playing, etc).

It really seems that while the Android Market is a lot more developer friendly from the standpoint of publishing, it's certainly less consumer friendly in terms of new product discovery, and because of that, far less developer friendly financially.

Of course, all of this is only my initial thoughts...and if anything I've posted here is unfair or incorrect (please, feel free to comment) I'll be posting a followup.